Thursday, August 14, 2014

Summertime Homework or ... WTF???

Quick! Call The Times

My teenage daughter and I are in complete agreement about something.


These days, this state of harmony is a rare and wondrous phenomenon. There's no doubt that I've raised an independent thinker. She has her own opinions about pretty much everything, and they differ from mine ... well .. pretty much all the time. What to watch on TV. What to have for dinner. The intrinsic value of a well-made bed. We don't see eye-to-eye too often.

But, we are both in accordance right now. We both feel strongly that homework over the summer is unfair, unjust, cruel and unusual punishment. It's a bum rap. It's a double-dealing, dirty pool of a scam. A travesty of justice, a sheer and utter misuse of authority.

And, given that it's mid-August and school starts two weeks from Tuesday, the summer homework heat is on.


Lest you think I'm (we're!) complaining about some silly little reading assignment, try this on for size:

1. A 181-page book about the English language, on which my daughter needs to be prepared for a "rigorous test" day one.

2. Another 248-page book, also on the English language, on which my daughter has to write a 2-page analytical essay.

3. Two hand-outs (36 pages and 21 pages), supplementing the above volumes (because — apparently — 429 pages aren't enough), which will provide the guidelines for 2 more 2-page papers.

4. A final 524-page book on Thomas Jefferson, a 5 to 7-page paper and at least 3 blog posts about it.

In case you weren't doing the math, my daughter is expected to read 1,010 pages (that's serious, non-fiction pages; we ain't talkin' Gossip Girl, Twilight or Divergent) and write 4 analog papers plus 3 digital ones.

Did I mention it's mid-August?

Of course, if we were to complain, either of the offending teachers would ask a simple question. Could she have started sooner? Yes and no. She certainly had the assignments, and we ordered the books fairly promptly. But, she was away the first three weeks of the summer. Soon after, we had back-to-back-to-back houseguests. She's had multiple horse shows (some out of state), SAT prep and she holds down a part-time retail job.

Trust me, she hasn't been twiddling her thumbs. She also hasn't had a moment to enjoy a pool, a beach or much of a social life. And, perhaps most importantly, she wrapped up sophomore year (finals and papers and subject matter SATs, oh my!) and she was burned out. She was t-o-a-s-t.

I understand that teachers may worry about students losing momentum or forgetting what they were taught. And, no, I don't want my daughter's brain to turn to jelly while she watches reality TV reruns on our iPad. But, there has to be some happy medium. Couldn't the assignments be a little more open-ended? "Read 4 books. Your choice."

The classic song from Porgy & Bess tells us "Summertime and the livin' is easy." 

My daughter and I agree to disagree with that one.

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